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Willie Haasbroek, head of the Barloworld Equipment Operator Academy, goes through the set-up programmes on the new Cat articulated truck simulator. Willie Haasbroek, head of the Barloworld Equipment Operator Academy, goes through the set-up programmes on the new Cat articulated truck simulator.

Each year, Barloworld Equipment’s Operator Academy, based in Johannesburg, qualifies around 700 candidates, some of whom attend for refresher training, whilst others are brand new to the industry.

“We don’t take short-cuts and every operator trained by the Academy will pass on measureable savings, both in terms of operating efficiencies and downstream maintenance costs,” says Willie Haasbroek, who heads up the Academy. (Barloworld Equipment is the Cat dealer for southern Africa.)

In the following interview, Haasbroek responds to frequently asked questions on the services provided by the Academy, as well as the legal requirement for operator certification, and recertification.

Q: What is defined by the term ‘full training’?

A: The successful completion of the NQF Level 2 Plant Operation course presented by Barloworld Equipment’s Operator Academy. The Plant Operation programme comprises a five-day theoretical component, which is classroom based, together with an additional 15 days (on average) of practical in-field machine operator training. This practical component will vary depending on the machine class, some being more complex than others to operate.

Q: What is defined as a ‘machine handover’ in the sphere of operator training?

A: No formal training takes place during a machine handover as it is done in one day. The purpose of the handover is to familiarize operators with the machine’s features and benefits. That’s why we don’t issue a certificate, as this would imply that competency training has taken place, which would in turn have legal implications for Barloworld Equipment as a training provider.

Q: What is refresher training?

A: Here we focus on up-skilling experienced operators. We have also found that refresher training (or retraining) highlights and corrects bad habits that operators tend to pick up over the years. Retraining has resulted in immediate and measureable bottom line improvements in key areas such as slot dozing, truck loading cycle times, utilization, mechanical availability and lower diesel consumption figures. The training duration is typically three to five days, depending on the size of the group and customer requirements.

Q: How long are competency certificates valid for?

A: 24 months. Thereafter, reassessment and recertification is required in terms of South African legislation for all earthmoving machine classes, irrespective of industry segment.

Q: What happens if a competency certificate is not renewed?

A: Operators without a valid competency certificate are legally non-compliant.

Q: Can I get my operator trained faster, in days rather than weeks?

A: There are two ways to do it: the short way, which takes into account ‘Recognition of Prior Learning’ (RPL) or the ‘full training’ route for those who don’t qualify for the first option. Please note that if the applying RPL candidate falls short of the Academy’s minimum requirements on assessment, then full training will be required to obtain certification.

Q: Why does the full training take approximately a month to complete?

A: For each machine family, there is a unit standard that dictates how many hours of training needs to be completed. The average is approximately 120 hours, which equates to three to four weeks of training (theoretical and practical.)

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